Covid-hit nursing homes lacked basic infection controls

Covid-hit nursing homes lacked basic infection controls

During nursing home inspections, Hiqa found compliance failings. Picture: PA

Basic infection control measures were not in place in two nursing homes hit by deadly Covid-19 outbreaks, Hiqa has revealed.

The health watchdog also discovered a third home had no “robust management structure” and was not sufficiently staffed to “respond to, contain or manage” a Covid-19 outbreak.

A fourth home the watchdog previously warned it would close if it did not sort out issues has yet again failed to be fully compliant with basic standards.

When Hiqa inspected Droimnin Nursing Home, Brockley Park, Stradbally, Co Laois, on January 12, it was dealing with an outbreak affecting 49 residents and 42 staff. At the time of the infection, 14 residents had died from the virus. 

Inspectors said residents were at risk of infection "as a result of the provider failing to ensure procedures consistent with the standards for infection prevention and control were implemented by staff".

It said prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the centre had a "mixed compliance history" but significant improvements were found when it was inspected in May 2019.

“However, the improvements were not sustained and non-compliances relating to governance and management, staffing and inappropriate storage of equipment, which were found in November 2018 were repeated on this inspection.” 

In another report, Teach Altra Nursing Home, in Newmarket, North Cork, failed to be fully compliant with all but two of the standards.

'Significant concerns'

The health watchdog did two unannounced visits in February at the home during a Covid-19 outbreak, with a total of 58 confirmed cases, 30 of whom were residents and 28 staff. Inspectors found “significant concerns” regarding clinical oversight, staffing, healthcare, and infection prevention and control.

“This resulted in the issuing of an urgent action plan to the registered provider,” said Hiqa.

Hiqa also found that St Theresa's Nursing Home, Dublin Rd, Thurles, Co Tipperary, was not “set up to respond to, contain or manage a Covid-19 outbreak”.

A report of a March inspection has also been published about Cahercalla Community Hospital and Hospice in Co Clare, which Hiqa wanted to shut down after its last inspection.

That inspection led to Hiqa issuing one of its worst-ever inspection reports after the hospital failed every compliance standard for which it was inspected.

Yet again, Hiqa inspectors found compliance issues during an unannounced visit to the home on March 16.

“The quality of the documented assessments and care plans remained poor. Some documented assessments did not appropriately reflect the needs of the residents," it said.

Compliance failings

Compliance failings were also found during an unannounced inspection at St Luke's Home, Castle Rd, Mahon, Cork, on January 27.

At the time, there was an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak which had led to seven residents dying after testing positive for the virus.

An inspector noticed while at one of the home’s units that a resident considered Covid-positive was accommodated in a single room and the door was open.

“A second resident, that had also tested positive and had not yet completed the required isolation period, was sitting in a chair in a communal area beside the nurses' desk,” said Hiqa.

“The inspector queried if it would be more appropriate for this resident to be accommodated in the designated isolation unit where there was less risk of the resident transmitting the virus to other residents.

“The inspector was informed that this would be done as a matter of urgency.”

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